Brad Feld

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This Stuff Should Just Work

Jun 10, 2009
Category Investments

I have a new Windows 7 computer at my loft in Boulder that I’ve been working on for the past 24 hours.  It’s the same exact configuration as my desktop (except for Windows 7 instead of Vista) and “my IT guy Ross” images all the machines the same so I get the same base config.  The amount of configuration in the image is substantial – it probably cuts out a full day of install, wait, download, configure, reboot shit.

I still find that piles of things don’t work quite right.  I can’t remember my password to the automatic password sync system I use, so I have no passwords.  Firefox isn’t set up the way I want it.  Outlook isn’t set up the way I want it.  Snipping Tool still crashes when I close it.  I can’t get to the shared drives in my office because I’m on a different ISP (Comcast) and things weren’t set up quite right.  And the list goes on and on.  And I’m really good at this!  Gronk.

I’ve been obsessing about user experience lately.  Human Computer Interaction and Digital Life are big themes of ours – an underlying premise of both of these themes is that the computer and technology should fade into the background.  And the premise of our Implicit Web theme is that the computer should do the work for you, figure out what you really want, and get smarted about this over time.

I got an email this morning from my long time friend and business partner Dave Jilk that made me smile.  Dave was my co-founder at my first company – Feld Technologies – and is now co-founder/CEO of Standing Cloud, a new company that we funded at the beginning of 2009.  The email – which is Dave’s review of his experience with the Pogoplug – is uniquely Dave as his goal was to, in his words, “make it hard on myself and do a more complicated configuration immediately.”  I’m proud to say that Dave’s conclusion was “Awesome setup.  Nice OOB experience.  IP-fu.  No blood.  Joe Bob says check it out.” (nice Joe Bob Briggs reference Dave.)

At this risk of over-pimping Pogoplug (since I just wrote about it yesterday in Pogoplug Getting Props from My Favorite Gadget Nerds, here’s the email (republished with Dave’s permission):

“I received my Pogoplug yesterday and installed it.  Since everyone raves about how easy it is, I figured I would make it hard on myself and do a more complicated configuration immediately. I wanted to keep my "Cloud drive" setup in my basement, and I happened to have a Linksys wireless bridge (WET54G) lying around (don’t ask).  So I connected the RJ45 cable into that and fired the bridge up.  Then I connected a USB hub to the Pogoplug USB port and just put a USB key in the hub to try it out.  I did not really expect this configuration to work the first time – will the bridge IP addresses confuse the Pogoplug? Will I have trouble with the initial setup given that I’m using a hub?  When, after all, was the last time I connected *anything* to a computer and had it work the first time?  But no, it installed trivially, without any problems.  You don’t even have to type in the long id code they give you – it just connects. I then downloaded the "Windows drive" software onto my laptop and opened it up, and that worked immediately as well (I found this almost creepy.  I’m running Vista.  I should at least have to reboot, right?)

All that didn’t take very long, making the experience mildly unsatisfying.  So I went back downstairs, unplugged the network cable while the Pogoplug was running and reconnected it to my Sonos music player, which can act as a wireless bridge also; and I added a USB hard drive to the hub.  This couldn’t possibly go well – the Pogoplug is going to get a new IP address.  Yet when I refreshed the browser window, there was the new drive. It took me a moment to figure out how to refresh the Explorer window to show the new drive – you have to go to the Pogoplug system tray icon and select "Reload" – but it worked fine once I found it.  Each device shows up as a top-level subdirectory of the Pogoplug drive.

The only thing I really found confusing is that the Pogoplug comes with a power cord and also has a power plug directly on the device.  It looks like the plug should come off (there is an arrow), but after a number of tries it did not slide off. I was afraid of breaking it, so I posted a question to the forum, which had an answer this morning: it’s just sticky, push hard. Probably they should have a sticker on the device that says this.  One other minor complaint, to use the forum you have to create a *separate* user account, which is annoying.  After all, I’m probably never going to use the forum again, given how simple the device is, so really the initial account setup should also set me up to use the forum.

Awesome setup.  Nice OOB experience.  IP-fu.  No blood.  Joe Bob says check it out.”